LETTER: Article on police shooting lacks context

This letter focuses on one section of the article, Police board offers letter of support to VicPD amid ‘defund the police’ movement, posted on vicnews.com on Sept. 12.

Ms. Grossman writes, “Calls to defund police forces came after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black North Americans. More recently, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.”

This is an example of media bias by omission, and it is interesting that the editor did not correct this. Grossman provides no context for the Jacob Blake shooting by police and a reader might believe that police shot Blake without justification. Here is the context. From USA Today on Sept. 3: “At the time of the Aug. 23 shooting, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest for a case filed in July in Kenosha County. According to a criminal complaint, Blake allegedly entered the house of a woman he knew in the early hours of the morning, sexually assaulted her and then took a debit card and car keys before fleeing in her vehicle. Blake is charged in that pending case with felony third-degree sexual assault, and misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct.” The criminal complaint against Jacob Blake: https://archive.is/YcYRU.

Blake’s interaction with the alleged victim prompted her to call the police. According to the New York Post on Aug. 26, the police knew Blake had a warrant for his arrest. Blake did not comply with lawful orders given by the police. He struggled with them, broke free and police used a taser on him twice which failed to subdue him. He went to the driver side of his vehicle and reached inside. At this time the police suspected he might have a weapon in the vehicle. An officer attempted and failed to pull Blake back from the vehicle. At this point Blake reached into his vehicle and at this point the police shot him. It was later confirmed that Blake had a knife in the vehicle. Here is the Kenosha Police Union’s summary of the interaction: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/jacob-blake-shooting-kenosha-police-union-releases-new-details/. Note that the reports from the New York Post and Kenosha Police Union differ slightly but both confirm that Jacob Blake had or had access to a weapon.

This is a case when context matters and Ms. Grossman and the VicNews editor provide none. In today’s volatile environment context and truth matter.

Grant Giles

Victoria

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